In Ontario, statutory employment standards are established by the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and enforced by the Ministry of Labour (Ministry) through its Employment Standards Program. The Ministry also:
- provides information and education to employers and employees to aid in compliance;
- investigates possible violations; and
- resolves complaints.
Most employees and employers in Ontario are governed by the ESA, with certain exceptions including, among other things, employees and employers in sectors that fall under federal jurisdiction (e.g. airlines, banks, radio etc.). The Ministry has a Special Rule Tool that can be used to determine if a particular industry is governed by the ESA. If an employer’s industry is governed by the ESA, then it is important to ensure that such employer is in compliance with the ESA, as the consequences of failing to do so may be harsh.
In some cases, Employment Standard Officers may require an employer, on notice, to conduct a self-audit of their records, practices, or both, to determine whether they are in compliance with the ESA and its regulations. An employer is required to report all self-audit findings to such Employment Standard Officer. A self-audit puts an employer in the position of being an inspector and may ultimately result in the employer having to disclose incriminating evidence to the government.
Franchise clients interested in learning more about the ESA’s self-audit provisions should download “The Ontario Employment Standards Act Self-Audit Manual” (Manual), prepared by employment lawyers from Dickinson Wright’s Toronto office. The Manual serves as guide to the self-audit process for both Canadian and American employers. The Manual also provides clear information about how to best ensure that an employer company is in compliance with its employer obligations under the ESA and avoid any surprises during the self-audit. For example, the Manual provides practice tips for employers with respect to keeping employee records and summarizes the rules relating to wages, deductions from wages, workable hours, eating periods and breaks, vacation, overtime, minimum wage, and termination.